by Francesca Vavotici
International Women’s Day Sketchathon at the 2019 Festival of Creative Learning
Archival collections and materials are incredibly important research and learning tools, yet they can often seem too precious and valuable to be consulted by and become an integral part of the wider university community. Items and papers that should be studied and cherished are frequently put aside into boxes, never to be looked at again by anyone other than archivists and ‘serious’ academics, who, through their years of toiling, are seen to have achieved a special status as protectors of archival knowledge.
The International Women’s Day Sketchathon event aimed at debunking the mythology surrounding the archives, by encouraging all attendees to actively engage with and learn from the materials at the Centre for Research Collections in a relaxed and creative environment.
Through a series of fast-paced and fun art challenges, carried out in a collaborative and interactive way, we were able to explore archival stories of Edinburgh women that, throughout the course of the centuries, have left their indelible mark on their communities and professions. While the various expert speakers introduced us to different areas of research and uncovered interesting and diverse narratives of female empowerment, we were all given the opportunity to test our creative skills, forge a supportive atmosphere, and foster human bonds through collaborative sketching.
As a group, we were encouraged to respond to different narratives and artworks by establishing creative and personal links, and using our imagination to produce original drawings and pictures to keep or gift as mementos of a surprising learning experience.